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NYU EXCEL Academy is dedicated to creating year-round critical literacy and college-access programming for youth from the South Bronx.

Excel (Educational Excellence Creating Empowered Leaders) Academy at NYU is a college access and critical literacy program nested within the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools at New York University.

EXCEL @ NYU provides talented high school students from the South Bronx with a consummate college preparatory experience. Since the program’s inception in 2009, this targeted intervention has provided nearly 300 promising you the extraordinary access to academically rigorous, life-enriching college access experiences.

EXCEL @ NYU has successfully built a program model committed to holistically supporting New York City’s underserved youth by addressing various obstacles to their educational success, increasing their access to college, and developing the skills they need to ensure they are prepared for post-secondary education.

Students from Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School participate in year-round college access and success programming on NYU’s campus and throughout New York City, including workshops, college visits, community service activities, and an intensive six-week summer program. With an emphasis on liberal arts and critical thinking through reading, writing, art and expression, EXCEL @ NYU provides a unique opportunity for students to not only learn about post-secondary education but to also gain first-hand college experience and prepare for their academic futures.

Why it matters?

Children living in poverty


don't have a high school diploma


EXCEL @ NYU serves youth who live in the South Bronx, the poorest congressional district in the nation, where 38% of the constituents live below the poverty line and 49% of children live in poverty. According to the 2016 Furman Center Report, 32.5% of this population, aged 25 and above, does not have a high school diploma. Moreover, only 13.4% possess a college degree. At our target partner Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School (FLH), a Children’s Aid community school located in the South Bronx, the average student enters the school with an 8th Grade English Language Arts rating about 60% below the city average. Of youth attending FLH, 29% are African American and 68.7% identify as Latino; 90.6% of FLH students are eligible for free and reduced lunch; 29% of students have learning disabilities, and 12.5% are English language learners (ELL). Fannie Lou Hamer also reports an average English Regents exam score - which must be passed for students to graduate—of 16.6% less than the city average.


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Our Impact

EXCEL scholars received acceptances

to at least 1 college/university and an average of about 3-10 acceptances per student scholar



served between 2015-2019

Program outcomes are tracked through a variety of methods, from participant surveys to academic data. Tracking key program data, such as the number of college applications submitted by each student, allows staff to regularly assess the program’s efficiency and ability to best suit the needs and goals of EXCEL @ NYU students.

Additionally, the College Coach and other Children’s Aid program staff track students’ academic journeys post-program by remaining in contact with participants as they progress to and through their college careers.

Throughregularone-on-one check-in meetings, exit meetings, and semi-annual surveys, program staff also work to track the socio-emotional and material needs of students and assist youth in developing the skills to monitor, address, and advocate for their own needs.

Data collected through EXCEL @ NYU has helped to define the relationship between academic success and basic needs, showing that a significant factor in college access is helping youth to draw on holistic supports to ensure success across the board.